This book, written in 2016, therefore before the outbreak of the new coronavirus, is today the subject of a new edition with a preface which updates it taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic.
At first, explains the author, we did not believe it. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) refused to use the word pandemic, preferring the expression “unprecedented epidemic outbreak” to refer to the virus that escaped the city of Wuhan, China, in December. 2019, quickly reaching other countries such as Greece and New Zealand. Soon, funeral images would occupy the entire space of our screens. We had never seen anything like it. The idea of a plot made its appearance at the same time. This curse could only arise from a clandestine laboratory. Didn’t Bill Gates predict the advent of an epidemic in 2015?
Yet other pandemics before had wreaked just as much, if not more, havoc, but, the author tells us, it’s as if we haven’t learned anything from these dire experiences. Our way of life has remained the same.
Sonia Shah, the author of this book, is, one might say, a pandemic stalker. In 2010, in Haiti, she experienced the epidemic of cholera from the inside, “one of the rare pathogens – along with bubonic plague, influenza, smallpox and HIV – which, in modern times, have been able to cause pandemics, that is to say contagions that spread widely among human populations […] with an always intact capacity to kill and to disturb ”. But she also visited, for her research, the “wet markets” of live animals in southern China, the surgical centers of New Delhi, the backyards of the suburbs of the US east coast and other hostile environments. human presence, “in the grip of diabolical fertility.”
In the 19th century, she tells us, cholera killed hundreds of millions of people all over the planet, hitting the poor as well as the rich. Its best remedy is access to clean water. To overcome this disease, it was therefore necessary to reorganize the cities by supplying them with drinking water and better management of waste and wastewater. This is the positive side of this disease: it has forced society to take better charge of public hygiene.
It was long believed that with these scientific developments and modernism, the pandemics were over, they were now part of ancient history. However, new pathogens were preparing to kick in, thanks to accelerated industrialization causing more pollution and leading to climate change. We traveled more and to the farthest reaches of the Earth, carrying in our suitcases and on us unsuspected visitors: bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi and microscopic algae.
This is how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) appeared in the early 1980s. Then others followed: West Nile virus, SARS, Ebola, and new types of bird flu capable of infecting humans. “Newly rekindled old germs learned to bypass the drugs we used to contain them and stirred up diseases that were thought to be over: drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria is re-emerging and cholera itself. ”
In 2016, we already predicted the imminence of a pandemic. “Many experts believe that a pandemic similar to cholera is looming. In a survey conducted by epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, 90% of his colleagues said a pandemic that will sick 1 billion people, kill up to 165 million and trigger a global recession that could cost up to 3 trillion. of dollars would occur in the next two generations. “
This book reads like a long investigation into unusual places, such as this mind-blowing visit to an illegal live animal market in Guangzhou, China: “A 15-kilogram turtle in a white plastic tub was sadly dipping in a puddle of gray water next to cages of wild ducks, ferrets, snakes and feral cats. Row after row of animals that had rarely, if ever, met in the wild were here, breathing, urinating, defecating and eating next to each other. It was in this murky environment that SARS was born a few years earlier.
I highly recommend this captivating book to all skeptics and conspirators.
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Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my [email protected] 1-800-268-7116